Role of peers in student academic achievement in exogenously formed university groups
We estimate the influence of classmates’ ability characteristics on student achievement in exogenously formed university student groups. The study uses administrative data on undergraduate students at a large selective university in Russia. The presence of high-ability classmates has a significant positive effect on individual grades in key economics and mathematics courses as well as on overall academic performance. While a simple linear-in-means model reveals moderate peer effects, non-linear specifications give strong evidence that students at the top of the ability distribution derive the greatest benefit from high-ability classmates. Less able students are not affected by peers and have no significant influence on peers’ outcomes.